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At the Movies: with the Family

Jul 16, 2023 | Pastor John Brunette

Inside Out (Prodigal Child)

The late author Marshal McLuhan once wrote that “The Medium is the Message.” What that means is that the medium, the way the message is getting to you, has a huge effect on the power of the message. During our series At the Movies, we are using the oh-so-powerful medium of the movies with the goal of bridging some of the movie messages to Biblical truths from God’s word. Today’s movie is the 2015 Disney movie Inside Out. Today’s scripture is, for many, a familiar parable found in Luke 15 about two lost sons and a prodigal, exceptionally loving, father.


Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”


For Adult Homes and Groups 

1. What time in your life would you describe as the “prodigal” or reckless years? 

2. Read Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the two lost sons and the prodigal (extravagant with his love) Father. What emotions do you see at work (joy, sadness, fear, disgust, anger)? What jumps out to you as you read? 

3. For parents reading this, if you were to define your parenting (or grandparenting) style, would you say you lean on the side of being a grace-based parent or a law-based parent? What about your past has formed this type of parenting style? What lessons can we learn from the father’s response to the repentant prodigal son (or even the elder son)? 

4. Compassion is defined as “to be moved from the depths of your very being to love someone.” Read v. 20 and note the father’s compassion for his returning son. Can you think of other occasions when God the Father and God the Son reveal tremendous amounts of compassion in the biblical account? 

5. Jesus has been described as the true elder brother who sacrifices it all to win His lost brothers and sisters (that’s us!). How has/could this good news message transform the way you view yourself and the way you treat others? 

6. Take some time to pray for the prodigal sons and daughters that come to your mind (your children/grandchildren/friend’s children) that they might be drawn back to their loving Father in heaven. 


For Families with Kids 

1. Read and memorize Jeremiah 29:11-13. 

2. Even when we are at our lowest, God promises to hear us because He is always near us. How have you found God through family, friends, or even in silent praying when you have been sad? 

3. Read Luke 15 as a family keeping Jeremiah 29:11-13 in mind. How do these two Bible passages prove that no one can ever be lost beyond hope from God? 

4. Jesus will always welcome you. Think of a kind gesture this week to help someone feel welcome in your home. 

Series Information

There is nothing like the power of hearing or watching a good story unfold, especially when it’s a movie that etches images and memories into our minds. Some of us have memories of movies that effectively catapult us into the past, the future, or even the reality of the struggles and hassles we feel each day in the present. This year, we are revisiting some of the stories shared in movies and how they connect to biblical truths.

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